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Retinoblastoma in children is a rare cancer, occurring in about one in 20,000 children. The disease occurs most often in children under the age of 4, and makes up 2.8% of all cancers in children less than 14 years of age. Childhood retinoblastoma originates in a part of the eye called the retina. The retina is a thin layer of nerve tissuethat coats the back of the eye and allows a person to see. Retinoblasts (immature cells of the retina) multiply during gestation and early life to make enough cells to create the retina. As children age, the cells mature and are no longer able to divide and multiply, a process called differentiation. Retinoblastoma in childrencan occur in one eye (unilateral retinoblastoma) or both eyes (bilateral retinoblastoma).
Most children (80%) with the genetic form do not have a parent with retinoblastoma; however, the change in the gene occurred in either the egg or the sperm of one parent prior to conception. If a child has the genetic form of retinoblastoma and neither parent has the tumor, the chance that retinoblastoma will occur in another child in the family is less than 5%. However, the risk of tumor in the offspring of a child with the genetic form of retinoblastoma is about 50%. Having the genetic form of the disease also increases a child’s risk of developing other cancers later in life.
About RetinoblastomaIn Treatment for Retinoblastoma After Treatment for Retinoblastoma